Martha’s Vineyard Bank announced today that the bank and many of its employees will participate in its annual effort to support Island children in need this holiday season through the Red Stocking Fund. According to a press release, the bank provides 12 Island children (year-round Islanders ages newborn to 14) from the Red Stocking Fund’s approved list of children, with clothing and other essentials. Bank “elves” shop for the clothing.
In addition to the bank’s donation, bank employees, with their own money, shop for toys and books for kids from a child’s wish list. “What makes this event so special to us is the support and generosity of our employees,” Jeanne Ogden, vice president of retail banking, said. “And we have fun, by making the wrapping of the gifts an employee event with a pizza party and ornament swap.”
“No child’s list goes unfilled,” Patti Leighton, the bank’s community relations director, said. “The week before [the gifts are distributed] we look at the [12 children’s Christmas] lists. If there is an unfilled item, the bank makes up the difference, ensuring all the children’s lists are filled.”
Leighton added that in years past, the Red Stocking Fund has asked for specific types of items, such as bedding, hardback books, and art supplies. The bank fulfills these special needs when able to do so.
The bank has been a key partner of the Red Stocking Fund for over 40 years, building up its contributions over the timespan, culminating in the bank supporting 12 children a year for the past 18 years.
The Red Stocking Fund was begun on Martha’s Vineyard in 1938 by Addie Crist, who was the organist at Grace Church in Vineyard Haven. The fund began by distributing knitted stockings filled with fruit or a toy. “It began with very small things for children in need within the church, and now we take care of about 300 children per year,” Susie Wallo, co-chair of the Red Stocking Fund, said. Wallo and her co-chair, Sandy Joyce, are the only people who know the children’s names. Once the list is approved and finalized, each name gets a number, to keep the anonymity.
Red Stocking provides the bank with lists from six boys and six girls each year, of varying ages. “We just try to be really fair,” Wallo said. Parents apply to Red Stocking, and the application is signed off on by a school nurse, guidance counselor, or healthcare professional.
“Martha’s Vineyard Bank is an integral part of Red Stocking,” Wallo said. “The bank and the employees have been so kind and so generous over the years, to always take 12 kids — that’s huge, we have no money. We just have faith that we’re going to have enough money to pay for everything, and not having to pay anything for 12 kids? That’s absolutely huge. We truly couldn’t do it without them.”